A well-stuffed lead database is like money in the bank. But how to generate leads and how to convert them into paying customers? Think longterm! Lead Relationship Management (LRM) does the trick.
The Challenge: How Does a Fly Find Honey?
You cannot expect potential customers to find your offer all by themselves nowadays – there is a wide range to choose from and not always is there an immediate demand on the customer's side for the service you offer. It may be true that one catches flies with honey. Yet this inbound marketing truism does not guarantee success if it is solely based on a Google ad. What can already be challenging in B2C is much more trickier in B2B: outbound marketing efforts like the tiresome lead research or the cost-intensive buying of contact information are active methods of generating leads – yet they are often perceived as a disruptive nuisance. Moreover, they are rarely successful. Most of the time, a secretary but not a decision-maker is at the other end of the line. Even if you are lucky and get a decision-maker on the line – it is unlikely he has the time and mindset for your sales pitch at this particular moment.
So, how do you find out how the best contact is and which of your offers are of interest to him? Well, content is indeed king and answers all your questions. The created content content only has to be on target and you have to gather and use all information king content provides. This, however, calls for patience and analysis tools.
The Solution: Offer, Observe, Convert
Prepare a nice honey sandwich and feed it to your lead in well-considered doses. Your lead should not starve, neither should he get a stomach ache. But how to get the honey to the prospect thus he becomes a lead?
Should your lead research efforts really get you a decision-maker on the line, ask for a meeting or whether you can forward him your newsletter. This is only rarely denied. Then, of course, there are your inbound marketing activities that should include landing pages that ask for contact information. Some may also sign up for the newsletter your prominently advertise on your website. In short: whenever there is a chance to get important contact information, use it! Even if people are not interested in your offers at the moment – this might have changed a couple of months down the road!
Experience tells us that sales cycles in B2B take months. From initial contact to the eventual sale both patience and persistence on your part are required. Thus, keep leads warm. A once refused offer can be recovered! How does this work? Well, it is actually quite simple: the metaphorical river of honey should never run dry. And – this is important – you should document what kind of content is appealing to your lead. The process from initial contact to the sale, i.e. the moment your lead becomes your customer, is called lead nurturing. At the initial contact, you only had a phone number or an email address. During the nurturing process, you should provide content that allows you to extract more information from your lead. At the same time, it should be suited to built trust in your brand. Needless to say that bluntly asking for all information at the very beginning would be the wrong way to do it.
Take a newsletter as an example to achieve this. Using analysis tools, you should find answers to the following questions: Has the lead opened the newsletter? Which links did he open? How much time did he spend on the site? Did the lead visit other offers on your website as well? Document the answers to these questions in your database. This will be of tremendous help in determining the right moment your sales pitch. In the sales conversation, your lead will already be reasonably informed about your company and your products and, of course, so will be your sales manager who has the lead's data sheet at hand.
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